Opinion: Yaniv Halily, an Israeli journalist based in Britain who for years reported on anti-Semitism in Europe, has also become a victim; he recounts being called ‘a stinking Jew’ by a woman, apparently a graduate of a private school in Switzerland, on a London bus
Yaniv Halily |
Over the past few years, I had been compelled to report on anti-Semitism which has been rearing its ugly head in Britain.
Year after year I have reported about studies full of data on anti-Semitic attacks that have now earned the cleansed term “incidents”, but I never thought I would become a statistic in one of these reports.
Last week, as I was making my way home from a movie theatre, two young men and a young woman boarded the bus I was on and sat down near me.
The woman – a white woman I might add – looked at me and smiled. “Are you Arab?” she asked. “No,” I replied. “I am Israeli.”
At that point, her smile disappeared. She began an impassioned speech against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but I promptly cut her off, saying, “I don’t want to talk about politics.”
A few minutes later she attempted to restart the conversation. “I don’t want to talk about politics or my country,” I said to her in a polite but firm tone.
Then it began. “You are a stinking Jew, f_cking stinking Jew,” she shouted at me on the packed bus. “All the f_cking Jews stink.”
When the bus pulled up at the next stop, her two friends dragged her off as they were apologizing to me.
Some people came over to see if I was OK, including a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, who told me: “I am sorry for the things she said.”
This all happened in Hackney, a trendy neighborhood in London, but it happens every day and everywhere.
I hardly left my home for two days after that night. I had a heavy heart. I have since done some research and traced the woman’s identity.
She is a graduate of a private school in Switzerland. The kind of school rich people send their children to. She comes from a well to do background. Not some uneducated or brainwashed home. She had just decided to hate.
We live in an era of social networks when hiding behind the keyboard and spewing hate is possible.
Public discourse has become violent and harsh – and the need to be “right” comes at the expense of the need to find common ground.
Britain is no different in that respect and in the last couple of weeks, as elections near, the discourse on social media as well as in living rooms across the country has become ugly and violent and includes a surge of anti-Semitism and racism.
I will head down to the police station this week and lodge a complaint about the hate crime committed by the woman.
The days when Jews were forced to bow their heads when attacked in Europe are over.